Seattle hotel initiative ballot title now includes reference to labor standards.

Seattle hotel initiative ballot title now includes reference to labor standards.

(May 9, 2016)  Initiative 124, the Seattle hotel initiative that would limit housekeepers’ workloads, require gold-level health care plans and mandate other workplace provisions, will now include a reference to labor standards in the ballot title. The change comes after the Washington Lodging Association filed a ballot title challenge to ensure the initiative title and description more accurately reflects the scope of the measure.

Last week, the King County Superior Court added “labor standards” to the title and changed its concise description as follows:

  • It now refers to “improving access” to health care instead of “paying for access” to health care;
  • It now refers to “improving access” to health care instead of “paying for access” to health care;
  • It now notes requirements could be waived for collective bargaining;
  • It now notes retaining lists of “accused guests” would be required;
  • It now refers to “certain-sized” instead of “large hotels.”

All of this more accurately reflects the substance of the initiative, which fundamentally addresses employment terms and benefits, imposes new labor conditions on employers and contains controversial provisions that would allow labor unions to waive many of the new minimum employment standards as part of the collective bargaining processes. The ballot title will now read:

Initiative 124 concerns health, safety, and labor standards for Seattle hotel employees.

If passed, this initiative would require certain-sized hotel employers to further protect employees against assault, sexual harassment, and injury by retaining lists of accused guests among other measures; improve access to healthcare; limit workloads; and provide limited job security for employees upon hotel ownership transfer. Requirements except assault protections are waivable through collective bargaining. The City may investigate violations. Persons claiming injury are protected from retaliation and may sue hotel-employers. Penalties go to City enforcement, affected employees, and the complainant.

Unite HERE Local 8, the sponsor of the initiative, is now gathering signatures to qualify for the November ballot. If it qualifies, the Seattle City Council has several options. Councilmembers can choose to pass the initiative as an ordinance, reject it and pass a similar measure, or do nothing and let it go to voters. Read more here.